It was always my grandma’s dream to bring her family together and have picnics on beautiful summer days. I learned this recently from my Dad as we packed up the needed plates, ice, lemonade etc. to have our own little family gathering. My grandma, who we affectionately called Nona, didn’t get to experience this tiny family adventure as often as she wanted. I now understand why.
Picnics are hard.
You know those movie picnics where a wicker basket sits beautifully over a red plaid blanket and the wind gently wisps the grass around it? Yeah, that didn’t happen for us.
For a family of five, plus three significant others and, of course, the four accompanying pooches, this turned more into a comedy sketch than a tranquil afternoon gathering.
As we pulled into the park and headed to the first open pavilion we could find we were met head on with our first obstacle. No grills.
My mother and I had decided that burgers would make for a perfect picnic dish as everyone loves a good burger. However, we made a critical mistake in that decision. The assumption that “most” parks have a grill.
In order to solve this conundrum my mother quickly ran to the nearest store and bought a mini grill ($12.99 and great by the way), and we continued down our path of haphazard picnic-ary.
As we began setting up the appetizers we were met with a great symphony of sounds for which no one’s ears should have to endure. Our four family dogs had decided that each person in this park deserved a rambunctious hello and proceeded to bark and howl at each new passerby. I apologize to you, you innocent park goers, that we made this grave mistake. I promise, they just wanted to be your friend. You must be cool.
Our final mistake was one that we had worked hard to prevent. The tragedy of melted ice cream.
What’s more summertime than an ice cream sandwich? Nothing.
We were so excited to pack up these mini ice cream sandwiches and we thought ourselves geniuses by buying dry ice to ensure their safety. However, when dessert time rolled around and we opened the coveted ice cream cooler we were met with soggy sandwiches and some lack luster dry ice.
This picnic was a mess.
A tragic, frustrating, beautiful mess and I highly encourage you to have one of your own.
Yes, we ran into a handful of roadblocks. No, we are not a movie worthy family (reality tv show, maybe). Yet, in this time that my dad decided to bring the family together for this adventure he was initiating something that we are all called to do.
We are called to gather.
Acts 2:44, 46-47 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common… 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people…
Hebrew 10:23-25 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
So much of scripture is seen around a meal, gathered in groups of believers, sharing love and sharing hardships. A crazy, haphazard, family picnic is just one way you can answer that call to gather.
There is so much worth in making that time. Our family picnic had its rocky moments but amongst that we were able to connect, to uplift each other, celebrate the blessings in our lives, and mourn the hardships. These beautiful things happened because we were willing to overcome the missing grill, tune out the dog quartet and eat our ice cream sandwiches with a spoon.
We were willing to gather.
Now I will not let you make the same mistakes we did. There are much simpler ways to gather around a picnic than the road we took.
Let me recommend these fantastic sites that will give you the needed tips and tricks on pulling off an easier, carefree picnic with fewer (but still very subject to) road blocks:
Thank you, Nona, for reminding us to love one another and to gather.
Share your adventurous family gathering moments. Comment below, we’d love to hear!